"df demystifies" is TechNews's singular advice column, offering students the opportunity to access 13 years of undergraduate experience to help make the decisions that will make or break their time at Illinois Tech.
DEAR df: This weather is going to kill me! It’s not enough for it to be frigid out, it’s not enough to have to trudge through a foot of snow, no, it also has to be slippery! Now, I’m not usually one to complain about how the school handles the winters, generally Facilities handles it as best they can, but I’ve nearly cracked my head open three times in the last week alone. In fact, I’m so paranoid about slipping and injuring myself I’ve started skipping my classes that don’t have mandatory attendance. Worse still, even the walk to the Commons is becoming increasingly fraught and a man can only survive on microwavable cup noodles for so long. I’m genuinely worried about developing scurvy if this goes on much longer. Is there something I can do to make myself safer when walking on campus?
---Scary Slippery Scenarios
DEAR SLIPPERY: Well, it’s smart of you to decide to do something yourself rather than depending on the university to handle it for you. As a general life lesson it’s always good to keep in mind that the only one who can help you is yourself (and your friendly advice columnist). Now, the answer to your question: what you need to do is go back to your high school physics class and remember the principles of a little thing called friction. To clarify: friction is the relative "stickiness" between two objects rubbing up against one another, and what you’re experiencing is a LACK of friction. Now, despite the efforts of the world's best scientists, there’s nothing you can do to make the ice have more friction so just accept that right now. What you can do, however, is increase the friction on the bottom of your feet! How do you do that, you might ask? Well it’s simple: tar! Just dip those shoes in a nice hot, all natural, tar bath and you’ll find your traction will skyrocket. Of course, you might not have access to tar, so you can substitute with glue if need be, though keep in mind you might have to reapply on occasion.
DEAR df: I live on campus and just got a new roommate and already we’re running into issues. Well, that’s not entirely true, it’s more the one issue: he’s hogging the outlets! Now, I’ll admit right away I have a lot of devices that need access to electricity, some of them at all times. My Dogecoin mining server in particular takes up about 3/4ths of the outlets in the room but they’re all on my side of the room and I was kind enough to give my roommate a power strip to compensate. Even after this he still insists on unplugging MY stuff just to charge his phone or whatever. Last night it was particularly bad and it took me 45 minutes just to get my Minecraft Let's Play Twitch stream running again! I tried to confront him about it and he just gave me this blank stare and truthfully I’m not even sure he understood what I was saying. Is there some way I can make it clear that I absolutely need those outlets at all times?
---Need That Sweet Zip Zap
DEAR ZAP: Now, I have an answer for you but I’m going to tell you right now it’s not precisely legal or, in fact, ethical. Of course you can’t make an omelette without breaking some international treaties so.... ya know. First, what you gotta do is get a generator, preferably diesel but anything capable of more than 5 kilowatts should do. Then, you’re going to need a male-to-male extension cord. Most hardware stores say they won’t make them but if you press them for it they’ll usually relent (try saying "Do you know who my father is?!" that generally works for me). Now, here’s the tricky part, you’re going to have to hide the generator somewhere while it’s running and covertly run the extension cord from the generator to an open outlet. This is called "backfeeding" and is almost always a great idea. Now that your trap is set, just wait! The next time your roommate goes to unplug something of yours, they’re in for quite the shock and, hopefully, will learn a lesson about touching your electronic devices.
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